Taxing tourists - the case for and against Cornwall's tourist tax
As the summer season approaches, and an estimated 4.5m extra visitors flood into Cornwall, Cornish councillors are now considering levying a £1-a-night tourist tax on visitors to the County. Literally a tax on tourists.
Already opinion is divided over whether this is a good or a bad thing. The council argue that all those extra people put a huge strain on public services and that the estimated £25million revenue it would raise would go towards paying for them and would “improve the tourist experience”
However, Tom Flanagan, Cornwall council's corporate director, admitted that collecting the tax could prove difficult and added that the council did not want to discourage tourists. Local businesses fear the tax would dissuade visitors from coming to Cornwall and that the new tax would put Cornish businesses at a disadvantage.
Whether or not £1 a night is enough to put people off visiting Cornwall remains to be seen, but it’s the principle we are interested in. After all, if Cornwall can do it, why not every other county?
Do Cornwall really want to open the floodgates for a county tax all around the country? Would counties charge according to their popularity, beaches or tourist attractions? If coastal counties can charge more, doesn’t that put inland counties like Leicestershire at a disadvantage? Would there be a sliding scale, with Cornwall or Cumbria at the top and the West Midlands* at the bottom? Culd Shropshire charge per hill, Liverpool per Beatle? Would the tax be progressive - £1 for a budget hotel but a fiver for one with a pool? Will it ever end?
What do you think - is a tourist tax a good idea or a bad one? Would it put you off visiting Cornwall? Would you select your staycation destination based on tourist tax levels? Do you even care?
* I actually live in the West Midlands. I picked it as I believe it is the farthest from any kind of coast in our fair land. So there.